My June in Games

June was a very busy month for me, especially around the weekends when I’d usually be at Newcastle Gamers. Two missed sessions (three including the late May one!) means I was grabbing any opportunity to get in a game here or there, but I ended up not doing too badly.

I kicked off the month by heading on down to Newcastle Playtest to see what new designs the group had kicked off since my last attendance. What actually happened was that I played Graham’s long-gestated flower-growing game with him and Olly (really enjoyed it, but Graham’s not sure about spending any more time on it), which devolved into a chat about pro cycling and the recently finished Giro d’Italia which had turned out to be a fantastic race (and a slightly ridiculously paced one – thanks, Astana).

The following week the stars aligned and I finally made it along to the Mile Castle for some Monday evening Android: Netrunner. What a lovely bunch of people! And what an experienced bunch of players. I played three games and lost all three. My decks kind of worked against me in a couple of the games (the first one ended in a flatline when my opponent played SEA Source and two Scorched Earths, so I didn’t really get a chance to get going), but I’m sure a more experienced player would have made better of the hands they’d drawn… or built a better deck in the first place. Everyone was really patient with me as I stumbled through some slow decisions and tried to make my frustrating hands work.

Dan played a beautifully horrible HB deck with the new Cybernetics Division: Humanity Upgraded identity (reduce each player’s hand size by one). After Dan scored a couple of Self-Destruct Chips early in the game, I was down to a hand size of two. Given that my Hayley deck is partially about heavy card draw, that was me scuppered. I need to work in a hand-size-enlarging card or two to counter things like that.

And then two days later I was down at John’s house for a bit of Corbridge gaming. John sprang on me a game I hadn’t even slightly imagined he might be interested in: Neuroshima Hex (in its 3.0 version, for those keeping score at home). I’d played this a few times on the iPad, but I couldn’t remember much about it so all strategic thought eluded me. I played the Borgo (good at melee combat) against John’s Moloch (lots of ranged combat options) and the tile-draw kind of screwed me a bit. I got in some good early hits on John’s HQ, which is the object of the game, but I didn’t draw either of my ranged units until near the very end, which meant I kept getting pushed back away from John’s HQ and had to concentrate on taking out some of his nastier ranged units. Yes, I’m staring at you, Gauss Cannon.

At the end of the game – looks like I've done really well (look at all that blue!), but all the damage had been done long ago.

At the end of the game – looks like I’ve done really well (look at all that blue!), but all the damage had been done long ago.

John took a comfortable victory after our tiles had run out, 9–5. Neuroshima Hex isn’t entirely my cup of tea, gameplay-wise, and the theme and artwork really aren’t for me. I mean, really – post-apocalyptic mutants? Again? I’d much prefer a Hive-style battle of the insects or something.

We finished up with another Roll for the Galaxy. Everything went my way this time, and I picked up a string of developments that only encouraged me to go for more developments. It really was a perfect-storm combo. I developed Investment Credits early on, which made all developments one die cheaper from that point. Galactic Bankers was a 6+ development, giving me 1 bonus VP per development, while Propaganda Campaign let me reassign one or two dice to the phase I chose. That meant (after a bit of exploring turned up some cheap developments) my final turn involved six dice on the Develop phase producing four developments for a total income of 14 VPs.

I had to check the rules to see if I was allowed to finish a thirteenth tile – indeed I was.

I had to check the rules to see if I was allowed to finish a thirteenth tile – indeed I was.

John had taken a much more balanced approach and did very well out of his shipping and a few 6+ development bonuses, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul my obscene development engine.

Final score – Me: 63 / John: 49

Yep, that entire winning margin of 14 was scored in the final turn. Love this game – it’s just so different every time.

That was it for June, and July’s shaping up to be similarly game-sparse. I’m making up for it with lots of cycling – both watching and riding. It’s great to get back on a bike after so many years off, and it’s helping no end with my CFS recovery.

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